Battle of Big Bethel

Battle of Big Bethel (HM1YLS)

Location: Hampton, VA 23666
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 5.497', W 76° 25.583'

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Hampton Roads in 1861

Unlike at Fort Sumter in South Carolina, the U.S. Army held Fort Monroe and its environs too strongly for Confederate forces to overcome. Instead, the Confederates concentrated on attempting to control Hampton Roads and protect Norfolk, the major city in the area, and Portsmouth. The U.S. Navy evacuated the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth on April 20, 1861, destroying the yard and burning several ships as it departed, to deny the Confederates those resources. The U.S. Army consolidated its occupation of Fort Monroe and its immediate surroundings, establishing Camp Hamilton west of the fort near Hampton. To threaten Union shipping in the waterway, the Confederates began constructing a battery at Sewell's Point on the present-day naval base. The Federals continued work on Fort Calhoun (present-day Fort Wool) on the Rip Raps, where they eventually mounted a gun with sufficient range to shell Sewell's Point.

Civilians holding secessionist sympathies and caught within Union lines were permitted to leave. Many who were outside the lines at first but too close for comfort in Hampton and Newport News soon departed. Union Gen. Benjamin F. Butler ordered two thousand men to the latter place in May, and Camp Butler was established to augment Camp Hamilton and strengthen Federal control of the northern side of Hampton Roads. Inland, Confederate
Col. John B. Magruder prepared defensive works as Butler planned excursions west from Fort Monroe in preparation for bolder movements. Early in June, one such excursion resulted in the Battle of Big Bethel.

Ruins of Norfolk Navy Yard - Courtesy Library of Congress
Hampton Roads, 1862 - Courtesy Library of Congress
"Flag of Truce," Confederate sympathizers leaving Hampton Roads, 1861 - Courtesy Library of Congress
Camp Hamilton - Courtesy Library of Congress
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Year Placed2016
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, May 30th, 2017 at 9:03am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 373234 N 4105987
Decimal Degrees37.09161667, -76.42638333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 5.497', W 76° 25.583'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 5' 29.82" N, 76° 25' 34.98" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)757
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling South
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1645 Big Bethel Rd, Hampton VA 23666, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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